Our world loves winners. We love a good story full of accomplishments and success … and flash. Our society cherishes winners, making those who belong to the winning team role models and water cooler chatter. Yes, we also love a hard fall from grace, but our society is built upon a dream of winning, the emotional connection of belonging to something that accomplishes an amazing goal.
Cue the NBA playoffs.
For months, the talk of the sports world was the Miami Heat and LeBron James. Article after article, blog after blog, wrote about the success and wins of this team. I joined in the conversation, of course, bashing the discussions as flashy chatter. The hype became too much of everything – too often, too obsessed, too positive.
There's a parallel to this media coverage on the San Antonio Spurs, but on an opposite path -- the “no media coverage” path. Of course, as we have all heard a million times, the management team in San Antonio has a very strong opinion about media attention: they don't need it and they don't want it. The Spurs are a quiet and intelligent team, speaking with the media when necessary (AKA when they are required).
So for one, the lack of media coverage of the Spurs is, in some ways, the Spurs’ own fault – if you don’t give anything, people will end up not even asking.
And second, if our society is dependent on flash and excitement, and if the Spurs are quiet and humble, play fundamental ball with few one-on-one plays that would look good on ESPN’s quick play features, then the Spurs won’t be seen in sport media on a frequent basis.
We the people want something sexy, and if you aren’t sexy, then you won’t be chosen.
But lately, I’ve been noticing something quite interesting … something that has made my eyebrows raise and my media brain go crazy.
The San Antonio Spurs are getting media coverage. GASP!! Through shock and awe, the Spurs have forced people to look and watch them. They have once again come full circle with the media:
San Antonio's Seasonal Media Circuit
Preseason = Who?
Early season = No thanks, not yet.
All-Star game = Boring.
Late season = Yea, kind of, but we will pass.
First round playoffs = Oh wait, the Spurs swept the Lakers
Second round playoffs = Ok, now hold on, the Spurs beat the Warriors
Third round playoffs = Hmm, I think it’s time to talk about the Spurs
Oh, so now you like the team??
All season long ESPN, specifically, handled the Spurs and the San Antonio market as important only when they played a team in a big market. And media featured the Spurs at the top of the news, not after they did something impressive, but after they'd played one of the “media darlings.” It took the San Antonio Spurs to PROVE their worth in order to get coverage.
After the emotionally-draining double overtime game against the Warriors, with the a-freakin-mazing three-point shot at the buzzer from Ginobilli, I was shocked when SportsCenter spent almost 10 MINUTES discussing the game. You could probably tally up every moment that show spent discussing the Spurs since the beginning of the season, and that probably wouldn’t have hit 10 minutes.
But with that game, with the performance from the Spurs, the team got noticed.
And come full circle, the media now is forced to turn the spotlight on the Spurs once more. The leadership on the court, along with the bench players, have proved their worth, earned their position in the conference finals, and given people something to talk about.
Even more, with the (strong) possibility of the Spurs playing the Miami Heat in the NBA finals, you know sport media is waiting, salivating, at that match-up. It’s the team vs. stars, fundamentals vs. flash, diligence and patience vs. instant gratification, humility vs. hype, international basketball culture vs. American basketball culture.
For the Spurs, it’s almost like they are channeling the Whitesnake “Here I Go Again Song” in their road to the finals:
An' here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An' I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time
Whether or not the Spurs are to blame for the lack of media coverage (I would argue “SOME”), the finger rightfully gets pointed at the media in their “since they are winning, I guess we should pay attention to them” coverage. But as fans, we are used to it. We almost laugh this time of year, thinking the importance circle has once again come around.
So, here we go again … Let’s just hope we can shove some wins in their face and laugh it off.